(New York, January 9, 2001) — Morrison H. Heckscher, who has served for more than 30 years in key curatorial positions in The American Wing of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, was today named Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of The American Wing, it was announced by Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan.
Mr. Heckscher was formally elected at today's meeting of the Board of Trustees. He will assume his new post on March 1, succeeding John K. Howat, whose retirement takes effect that day.
"Morrie Heckscher is blessed with a most extraordinary combination of talents—as a specialist and a generalist alike," noted Mr. de Montebello in announcing the appointment. "He has not only mastered his own field—18th-century American furniture and American architecture—but has emerged as the Metropolitan's leading institutional historian, possessed of a vast knowledge of how the Museum has grown and developed over the generations. With his fine eye, his keen scholarship, his unbridled enthusiasm, and a lifetime of dedication to the Museum, he will be a superb chairman of The American Wing, to which he has contributed so much over the years."
Commented Mr. Heckscher: "I can think of no greater honor than to be named chairman of the Metropolitan's American Wing, home to the most comprehensive collection of pre-1900 American art anywhere. The wing's superb staff consists of valued friends and colleagues with whom I look forward to continuing a fruitful collaboration for the benefit of our public."
Mr. Heckscher has served since 1978 as Curator of American Decorative Arts, and since 1998 as Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator, Department of American Decorative Arts. He originally joined the Metropolitan Museum as a Chester Dale Fellow in the Print Department in 1966, and became a Curator in the American Wing in 1968, serving in that capacity for the next 10 years. From 1978-1998 he was Curator of American
Decorative Arts. His entire professional career has been spent at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mr. de Montebello announced further that longtime curator Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, a specialist in American ceramics and glass, would be named to succeed Mr. Heckscher as Anthony W. and Lulu Wang Curator, Department of American Decorative Arts, also effective March 1.
Mr. Heckscher received his B. A. in American History from Wesleyan University, an M. A. from the University of Delaware's Winterthur Program in Early American Culture, and the Ph.D. in Art History from Columbia University.
Over the years, Mr. Heckscher has served as curator for a number of special exhibitions, including An Architect and His Client: Frank Lloyd Wright and Francis W. Little (1973); The Architecture of Richard Morris Hunt (1986); American Rococo: Elegance in Ornament, 1750-1775 (1992); The Architecture of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1996); and most recently, American Furniture and the Art of Connoisseurship (1998).
He is the author of dozens of articles, on subjects ranging from rustic furniture design to upholstery techniques to Philadelphia Chippendale, which he has contributed to scholarly journals and magazines, including Antiques, The Burlington Magazine, Furniture History, and Apollo. Mr. Heckscher has also written a number of exhibition and collections catalogues, including American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Late Colonial Period—Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles (1985), which won the Charles F. Montgomery Award of The Decorative Arts Society. And he has written often for The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletins, notably the Summer 1995 edition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art: An Architectural History.
From 1973 to 1975, Mr. Heckscher served as President of the New York Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians. He was President of the Society of Winterthur Fellows from 1987 to 1991.
Mr. Heckscher has been a Trustee of the Winterthur Museum since 1993, and since 1995 a Trustee of the Samuel F. B. Morse Historic Site. He is also a Director of Scenic Hudson, Inc., and in the 1970s served as a Director of the Society of Architectural Historians and an Overseer of Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Mr. Heckscher resides with his wife Fenella in New York City.
January 9, 2001